Fitness After 50: Safe ways to strengthen your core – part 2
In January 2020, seniors hit the gym like never before. The number of gym memberships for those ages 55+ increased from 1.9 million to 4.9 million in just a few years. SilverSneakers’® growth was unprecedented, reaching 13 million members.
With more than 10,000 people turn 55 each day, it seemed like nothing could stop the Senior Fitness Tidal Wave – until now. That glorious momentum came to a screeching halt when COVID-19 worked its way across the globe, choosing its victims at an alarming rate. The statistics frightened people, lawmakers, and businesses. Sensationalism reared its ugly head, creating a worldwide panic the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime.
Fear of contagion and public health risks caused lawmakers to take action. They did what they believed would be best to protect the people. They told everyone to stay home.
I went out cautiously one day to survey the apocalyptic landscape. I peered into the darkness of Purple Planet, walked gingerly by the 24-Hour gym, now a 0-hour gym. Lonely treadmills waited in the darkness – sad, motionless, unplugged – powerless to do what they were designed to do … help the masses get in shape.
Now – about that New Year’s Resolution. Did you know that 60-80 percent of people who join gyms in January quit after three months? About 50 percent of those who keep their memberships actually go to the gym regularly. How much more so, with a deadly virus threat? Or worse yet, a stay-at-home order?
You may be tempted use this stay-at-home order as an excuse to renounce said resolution, curse God, the Devil, the Government and the Illuminati, and plop down on the couch forever. But please … for the love of all things dairy, don’t give up. This is where we separate the men from the boys, women from wimps, the promise-makers from the promise-keepers, and the determined from the easily-dejected. In short, now is the time to bust-a-move – starting with your core!
In my January article, I explained the importance of core work for people with limited mobility. I listed some exercises to that effect such as high marches, kicks, pillow squashes, bed leg lifts and side-to-side rockers. In this article, I’m listing some core challenges for those of you who are in decent physical condition, with no previous hernias, back surgeries or intestinal breaches. If you’re ready to go beyond leg lifts, high knee marches and regular crunches, these brutal gut-busters are for you!
THE PLANK is the single most effective core exercise. Most people do it incorrectly. A correct plank position is done by keeping your abs flexed and your hips aligned with your back — not lifted up. If you allow your abdominals to relax you are putting your lower back at risk. Tighten your glutes for additional low back protection. When you are able to hold a basic plank for 2 minutes, have someone put a 25-45-pound plate on your back and try it for 20 seconds. Limit yourself to one set of weighted planks per day.
PUSHUP WALKUP: Start in a push up position and walk your hands out as far as possible. The goal is to keep your back flat and touch your nose to the ground before walking back up. Beginners can start from the knees.
BARBELL SIT UP: Lie flat on the floor or on a bench, feet straight out in front of you. Rest an empty barbell on your chest. Explosively sit up as you press the bar up and over head. The bar should travel in a straight line towards the ceiling, not out in front of you. When you feel like you’ve mastered the empty bar, add some weight!
L-SIT PULL UP: Why do regular pull-ups when you can do an L-SIT? Start in an L-Sit position with your legs extended straight and parallel to the floor. Keep them locked in place and perform pull-ups with your favorite grip.
MEDICINE BALL WHEELBARROW: (Careful with this one!) Start with your feet on a Medicine Ball or Swiss Ball and your hands on the ground in a push-up position. Slowly walk forward and use your feet to walk the ball along with you. YIKES!
FROG LEG SUPREME: (Careful with this one!) Lay on your back on the floor with your feet together and legs open into a diamond position, AKA Frog Legs. Bring your legs out and together like a breast stroke swim or a frog swim, using your entire core to keep you stable and strong.
UNSURE ABOUT THE FORM? Better safe than sorry! Don’t attempt these exercises unless you understand proper form and execution. Email me at email@example.com and I will email you the PDF’s. I am not providing snail-mail options at this time. Please keep me posted with your progress by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. I believe that I’ll see you in the gym someday soon.
REFERENCES: Credit Donkey, Club Industry, Muscle And Strength, Coach Myers, Mens Health, Silver Sneakers, Daily Progress, Medium.com
Vicki Morgan CPT ACTION is a Senior Strength & Fitness Instructor at Flex Gym and Fitness. You can reach her at 719-445-8566 or visit seniorstrength.pro. Remember to consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. If you experience pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to take the place of any treatment or activity your physician has deemed necessary.